Written By: - Date published: 8:47 am, January 2nd, 2016 - 56 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, ETS, farming, global warming, john key, making shit up, Minister for International Embarrassment, national, paula bennett, same old national, science, spin, sustainability, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: cop21, Kyoto protocol
A month on from COP21 and it appears that the Government’s sense of urgency is not as high as most people would want.
In a typical pre christmas example of bury the report Paula Bennett released these reports and suggested that New Zealand was complying with its Kyoto protocol obligations and was implementing domestic policy to transition to a low carbon economy. What better time to release and avoid than in the middle of the festive season?
But the release has received some scathing analysis. Geoff Simmonds from the Morgan Foundation has said this:
The Government’s plan for meeting our Kyoto Protocol commitment and 2020 emissions reduction target was released this month.
It reveals a shocking truth: New Zealand has been a willing participant in a wholesale climate fraud.
We’ve been dealing with criminals and fraudsters in order to meet our international obligations. If our reputation wasn’t shot to pieces after Paris – where we revealed our weak kneed 2030 target – it will be now.
Carbon trading is a fine idea, but it only works if the credits we buy actually represent a true emissions reduction somewhere else.
The sad truth is that the foreign credits New Zealand has gorged on up until now have produced little to no climate benefit.
He points out the problem, Russia and the Ukraine have been allowed to self certify their own projects for the generation of Kyoto credits but when an independent audit was preformed 85% of the approved projects were shown to worthless in terms of benefits for climate change. Things were that bad that one official described what was happening as “organised crime”.
Idiot Savant has provided some detail of the types of schemes involved. One allows credit where coal from coal waste piles is extracted and reductions are claimed for the avoidance of waste pile fires. The coal is still burnt.
But wait there’s more.
The Stockholm Institute identifies three types of projects as having “questionable or low environmental integrity”: spontaneous ignition of coal waste piles, energy efficiency in industry and power production and distribution, and natural gas transportation and distribution. Eighteen of the twenty largest Ukranian projects New Zealand purchased “reductions” from (totalling 51.3 million tons) fall into these categories. One is a “no-tillage” agriculture project, which the Institute notes are deliberately misclassified in Ukraine to allow the credits to be fraudulently sold onto the EU market. And the final one, for “Implementation of Energy-Saving Light Sources in the Public, Corporate аnd Private Sectors of Ukraine”, appears to have issued twice as many credits as its expected reductions. Basicly, we’re paying our bill with bullshit and fraud.
After the market was flooded in 2012 the European Union restricted the trade of these credits. New Zealand did not do so until the last moment when under Kyoto Protocol rules various types of credits had to be retired.
But the actions of the Government had its effect and stopped the carbon credit market from working at a time when it needed to work. We have wasted seven long years.
The price change is now starting to kick in with carbon credits selling for $9.22 in December. But the scheme has a very poor reputation with foresters claiming that it is responsible for the situation actually getting worse.
And it cannot be claimed that National was ignorant of what happened or the destructive effect the policy was having on local forestry owners. Labour attempted to have the use of these credits restricted by imposing an obligation to purchase half of all credits from local sources but this attempt in 2012 was voted down.
From the SOP explanatory note Moana Mackey said this:
The effect of these countries doing this is that international units not able to be sold in those countries have nowhere to go but New Zealand. This means millions of surplus credits are flooding the New Zealand emissions trading scheme lowering its price. The present price of carbon in New Zealand is around a third of what it is in Europe due to our different regulatory settings. Carbon trading system OMF recently estimated the excess units not allowed in other countries were sufficient to pay all of New Zealand’s emission liabilities for the next 28 years.
The effect of this price lowering is significant in two respects: participants have a much lower incentive to reduce emissions and foresters are getting a much lower price for their carbon than they should meaning no new planting is currently planned and deforestation is taking place at a faster rate.
These were prophetic words at the time and with hindsight clearly this is what has happened.
Simmonds summarised the situation in this way:
We have been the biggest abuser of fraudulent carbon credits. Someone should be answerable as an accessory to the fraud.
We have spent more than $100m willingly buying these cheating credits that have no benefit for the climate.
I think most New Zealanders would be horrified to find that we have sent $100m to corrupt foreigners, with the only benefit being that we could avoid our emissions reductions obligations.
The politicians have known damn well what they’ve been doing.
There was another piece of interesting information released recently. Remember when John Key said that the scientists had a solution for agricultural emissions and it was only three to four years away? Well they do but the improvement will be incremental, not a solution. Dr Andy Resigner of the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre based in Palmerston North was recently interviewed on Radio New Zealand. He thought that the best chance was a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through animal ruminations. This is at best 15% of our total emissions. We will need to keep using that cheap store of Ukraine credits for a while to come.
The whole episode epitomises National. Some of the brightest guys in the room have cut by cut, change by change, rendered the ETS totally unfit for purpose. They have succumbed to the prejudices of the farming lobby and refused to put agriculture in the scheme. They have then had to resort to the use of credits which have essentially no effect on the planet’s level of greenhouse gasses. They then apply the spin and claim that New Zealand is meeting its targets when its activity is only making climate change worse.
The levels of spin are strong here. One to placate the farming lobby, one to give the appearance that New Zealand is doing its bit to address the world’s greatest challenge. But Simmonds is right. Someone should call the police. Because New Zealand and National have been openly complicit in a fraud.